Leatherhead Parish Church

Sidney Arthur Brown 1921-2005

Sidney Brown died on 22nd January 2005, aged 83.

At the service held in Memory and Thanksgiving for Sid, at his Parish Church of St Mary & St Nicholas Leatherhead on 4th February 2005, the hymns were:

When morning gilds the skies
When I survey the wondrous cross
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended

Sid supported the Mission Aviation Fellowship to which donations made at the service were sent.

The readings were:

Andrew Brown, son: Thread of Life, Sonnet 82 by Sidney Brown

Thread of Life

On what strange circumstance does life depend?
We theorise and struggle to discern
The process under which vast forces blend,
Forming a harmony of no return.

The seed of grass, the bud of tree and flower,
The progeny of birds and human kind,
All are but children of the distant hour
When earthly incarnation was defined.

The human tale of nights and days rolls on,
on us the world and righteousness depend;
God's intellectual vision is not gone,
He is our maker and our steadfast friend.
The slender thread of life still holds us fast
And life will live, when death is in the past.

Debora Coghill, daughter: A Grief Apart, Sonnet 49 by Sidney Brown, followed by a personal tribute:

A Grief Apart

Grief, do not crush the intellect and heart
of those who mourn for any human soul,
Whose passing stirs in them a grief apart
From the small shadows that the years extol.

Let honoured tears be shed, to bless the birth
And praise the life that now lies still in death;
Whether it be a century on earth
or but one minute of a new-born breath.

Maybe the stars, on their celestial flight,
Will pause for just the blinking of an eye,
To count each life that vanishes from sight
And greet each spirit, as it passes by;
Out of this universe of day and night,
Into the life that does not have to die.

The following poem is for Dad, my tribute to a truly special man, It says just a little bit about the way in which he led his life, and the beliefs upon which he raised us, so I hope he's paying attention .....

Lead by Example

Lead by example,
Seems an extraordinary thing to say,
To a mere five year old,
Who simply wants to play

But lead by example,
Became a familiar friend,
And as the days slipped into years
Words, on which you could depend

Lead by example,
So just what did it mean?
A word, a deed, an action, thought,
That simply can't be seen?

Do by example ..... of course ...
Wipe my feet on the mat,
Open doors for ladies,
And raise my bobble hat

Live by example
Stay true to what you say,
Fulfil all your promises
And make new ones every day,

Think by example,
At last, became clear too,
Think and do to others
As you'd like it done to you

Love by example
Interpret others needs,
Make them feel special
And cherished for their deeds

You lead by example Dad,
In an unpresuming way
You'll always be so cherished
Each and every day
As we read sonnets to you,
Whilst checking on your breath,

You've led by example Dad,
Even in death
So now in these moments
When I need you to be here,
I hear your voice inside me
And it takes away my fear,
It says 'Lead by Example Sweetheart'
Know that I am near.

This is a service of THANKS, and from the very depths of our souls
Dear Lord, We give you thanks for lending us,
Sidney Arthur Brown.

The Address was given by Canon David Eaton: Sid Brown will be remembered as an unassuming man who had great care and concern for other people. His modesty often masked his real ability and creativity.

Sid was born in Herne Hill and grew up in Streatham and Tooting, going to school in Tooting Bec. He was 19 when in 1940 he joined the RAF. He spent most of the war in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) although he also served in India. From contemporary photographs he looked extremely handsome in his RAF uniform and, to those of us who have only known him in later life, but a lad.

Leaving the RAF after the war he worked in London and trained as an accountant.

Joyce met Sid at a friend's birthday party and they married three years later in 1951. Although they lived in Surbiton and Merton and Raynes Park, in 1965 they came to Leatherhead and here Debora and Andrew grew up and went to school. When the family moved to Mayell Close [from Windfield] they were joined by Joyce's Mum, who lived to receive a telegram from the Queen and to whom Sid dedicated his third book of Sonnets.

Sid probably qualifies as the the world's best son-in-law. He and Gran developed a natural rapport and Joyce tells how Gran was always glad to know it was Sid who had made the tea, because he made a proper cup, although I'm sure Joyce is no mean hand with the tea pot as well. It's just mothers are like that.

Professionally Sid worked with Jackson Pixley, where he trained and qualified, and then subsequently with Howard Humphries, Civil Engineers and Ceraf who were builders; with these he acted as Company Accountant.

Sid not only practised accountancy, he taught it at Evening Classes; and in retirement also worked at Manor House School where he was much liked by staff and children alike.

This church has every reason to be grateful to Sid. He has been a most faithful church member and has served the church in a number of important roles. He was Secretary of what was then the Missionary Committee as well as Secretary to the Church Council and from 1986-88 was Churchwarden. He served with Linda Heath and Linda recalls how grateful she was for his unflappable nature, taking everything in his stride.

Sid was in many ways saintly. He had a profound spiritual grasp but he didn't have his head in the clouds. He worked out his Christian discipleship in his service to the church and community and in his writing. One of Sid's endearing qualities was his sense of humour. Linda also recalls a time when Sid was on sidesman's duty after he had finished as churchwarden. A successor was turning up the pressure to get the counting of the communicants done more precisely. The bidding was: does anyone have any trouble in counting? To which Sid (professionally qualified in accounting) replied: I don't have any trouble in counting - it's just that I never get the answer right!

Sid was a natural and prolific reader and from this he wrote and published three books of Sonnets, numbering nearly 100 altogether - Where the Rainbow Ends, Chalice of Dreams, A Winter Rose. Those who have read these will know that they reflect Sid's natural empathy with nature, not to mention the stars. He really writes from the same perspective as the Lake Poets. The sonnet suited him very well and he had mastered its pace and meter. As well as nature, history shows through and an innate humanity in his Motherhood and Birth, Life and Death [the latter was printed in the Order of Service].

And for Sid, of course, there is a spiritual dimension. We have heard this in A Grief Apart [49]. God is personified as ...

... greeting each spirit, as it passes by;
Out of this universe of day and night,
Into the life that does not have to die.

Or in Thoughts Received from a Prayerful Friend [27] we read:

.. I survey the skies
That fill the haven of my soul, and pray
By name for every friend I have, that they
May all be personally blessed. ....

The mind's eye can see Sid actually doing that out of faithful diligence and love.

Sid possessed many of the finest human qualities: genuine care and concern for others, modest to a fault, beyond reproach, a genuine servant to the Church and Community, the ability to get on with people, a sincere Christian faith which he believed in his heart and showed forth in his life.

In Joyce he found an ideal partner, in Debora and Andrew a devoted daughter and son. He was greatly loved and held in affection by many. One last word should be his from his sonnet Star Seekers [30]:

Star Seekers
We walk the pastures of the Milky Way
And hold the stars of heaven in our hand,
And dig down deeply in galactic sand
To find the diamonds of eternal day.

A million suns, with never fading ray,
Give light by which we hope to understand
And find the truth, in a long-promised land,
Forever lost, but never far away.

We follow this long trail on willing feet,
The path of fate that fools and angels tread,
And know the task will still be incomplete
When our small, earthly lives are gone and dead.

But where the rainbow ends, there we shall meet
To share, in fellowship, the living bread.


Birth, Life and Death

For birth, the great awakening, the first
And virgin opening of the flower, that brings
The honey bees of busy life to burst
The bubble of our childhood wonderings.

For life, the great experience, the untold
And unrehearsed expression of the power
That motivates our youth and guides the old,
Until the dawning of our final hour.

For death, the great departing, the unknown
And twilight voyage across a sleeping sea.
Led by the guiding star of faith alone,
Held by the hand that rules our destiny.

For these great gifts, accept our thanks and trust,
Creator God, whose word is true and just.

From 'Chalice of Dreams' by Sid Brown

1993 ISBN 0 9525946 0 9 1995 ISBN 0 9525946 1 7 1998 ISBN 0 952 946 2 5


from the February 2005 magazine
Sid Brown
On 22nd January we lost an old and faithful member of our church - Sid Brown. He had been in failing health for some time, but his death still came as a shock and we have a deep sense of loss.

Sid and I were churchwardens together between 1986-88 and formed a close and lasting relationship during this time. He had already been churchwarden for one year, and was a marvellous person to "show one the ropes". Nothing ever ruffled or upset him - he was totally unflappable. Whenever some crisis arose, he would just say, "Don't worry - we'll do our best", and was wonderfully calming. At the same time, he had a keen sense of humour and we had a great many laughs together. His modesty was legendary. Once I was saying how much I enjoyed his poems, which at that time were published each month in the magazine. He said, "It's a very inexpensive hobby - all you need is a pencil and paper". A masterly understatement!

At his funeral, David recalled an incident, which amused me very much at the time. By then Sid was no longer churchwarden, but was a sidesman. A subsequent churchwarden wanted to obtain more accurate numbers of communicants at the services, and asked the sidesmen to count more carefully. At a meeting of the sidesmen he asked if any of them had trouble with the counting. Sid, a professional accountant, said "I don't have any trouble with the counting - it's just that I never get the right answer!"

Sid and Joyce seemed inseparable - one always thought of them together and they did so many things together for the church. Sid was loved by all of us who knew him and will be much missed by all of us. Linda Heath

from the April 2005 magazine
Thank You Joyce Brown, Andrew and Debora would like to say thank you so much to everyone for all the kindness and love you have given us during Sid's illness. We have been helped and cared for in every way and we are so grateful.

If you have more photos of Sidney or further remembrance to add, please contact Frank Haslam, the editor of these pages.

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last updated 26 Feb 2005